Teen sentenced in robberies

A 19-year-old man received a 46-year prison sentence Thursday for a robbery spree from late last year.

Posted on May 31, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.

GOSHEN — An Elkhart teen received 46 years in prison Thursday for committing six robberies in late November and early December in the Elkhart area.

Zohnpierre D. Perkins, 19, is no stranger to the justice system. Using marijuana since he was 11, on his own since he was 13, Perkins had a string of juvenile cases — including five offenses that would be felonies if committed by an adult — and two earlier adult felony cases.

Perkins’ attorney, Jeff Majerek, said Perkins committed “six robberies in a nine-day period to feed a crack-cocaine habit.”

Majerek said the addiction came on Perkins quickly, and detailed his rough life. “Sometimes he lived in abandoned buildings, sometimes he stayed with friends,” Majerek told Elkhart Circuit Judge Terry Shewmaker.

Deputy Prosecutor Don Pitzer, though, said that background is “far, far outweighed by the crimes that he committed in this particular case.”

Pitzer said he robbed four convenience stores, a bar and a printing office.

“The amount of terror it must place in the heart and mind of the victim can’t be glossed over,” Pitzer argued.

Mike Cooper, who runs Skinner the Printer, said the robbery traumatized the clerk who Perkins robbed.

“The threat of shooting somebody for money, I take very seriously,” Cooper said.

Perkins expressed regret for what he put the victims through, pointing a BB gun at their heads, but he acknowledged they had no idea it wasn’t a real gun.

Shewmaker sentenced Perkins to four years less than the maximum he faced under the plea bargain he reached with prosecutors. Without the plea deal, Perkins could’ve faced up to 126 years.

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